While most have June 30 circled as the final day of the current collective-bargaining agreement in the NBA, New Orleans power forward David West has the date marked for a different reason.
Thursday could be West’s last day as a Hornet after he notified the team Monday he is opting out of the final year of his contract that would pay him $7.5 million in order to become a free agent, according to ESPN.com and the The Times-Picayune. Now, with a likely long work stoppage ahead when the current CBA expires Thursday night, it might be a while before there is free agency or any real activity in the NBA.
West, who suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in March, could end up remaining with the Hornets and close friend Chris Paul, but it’s sounding like he just might be ready to move on to a contender. West will be one of the most coveted-free agents this offseason after putting together a solid career with the Hornets, which includes averaging 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in 70 games this past season.
"We'll have to talk to them, obviously, and see where [Hornets general manager Dell Demps] is," West told the Times-Picayune. "The Hornets have an opportunity. But I'm looking for an opportunity to win, honestly. We'll see how things work out and what the Hornets do to make our situation better. That's really all it came down to. At this point in my career, I want to win and I want to win big."
It certainly sounds as if West is ready to move on. And that wouldn’t bode well for the Hornets chances of keeping Paul, who can become a free agent after this upcoming season. It had seemed a long shot Paul would remain in New Orleans once his contract expires, but without West there seems no chance at all the All-Star point guard will stay.
Paul issued a statement of support for West’s decision Monday.
"D. West is like a brother to me," Paul said in a text message to the Times-Picayune, "and I respect the fact that he made a decision that he believes [is] in the best interests of himself and his family."
(Photo: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)